Raised with flesh or as a spirit? 

Today we celebrate the resurrection of the God-man Jesus Christ! In this wonderful tradition we see victory over death and hope for now and the future. This belief isn’t without some challenges though. Jehovah Witnesses​ believe that Christ was raised with a spiritual body. This is what their website says, “Jesus’ own words showed that he would not be resurrected with his flesh-and-blood body. He said that he would give his “flesh in behalf of the life of the world,” as a ransom for mankind. (John 6:51; Matthew 20:28) ” They are arguing that Jesus’s flesh could not be given for a ransom if he kept his flesh after death. I think it is clear this is not a strong argument. He could give his flesh in the sense of dying in it. Then he could  be restored in flesh after sacrificing it. More importantly there are verses that clearly show he rose in flesh and blood. Check out Like 24:39, “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” Jesus went to some lengths to show his disciples that his resurrection wasn’t one of a spirit body, but a physical one. In this we can conclude He has indeed risen in flesh! 

A Timeless God

Many Christians hold the belief that God is outside of time. They hold this beliefs in part because of tradition. More importantly, some argue that if God were within time then time would be his master and God can have no masters. There are perhaps more reasons for this belief such as considerations from simplicity, but It isn’t clear to me how that works. Either way, I believe this belief is false. My reason for this is both philosophical and theological. I will only dwelve into the theological here. Hebrews 9:25-26 says, “Nor was it to offer himself (Jesus) repeatedly… for then he would suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world.” If God was timeless, then he would see everyday as the same day. Everything would be on a constant repeat. Which means everyday Jesus both died and rises. Yet here it is clear he suffered once for all. Thus, God cannot be timeless. In addition, Jesus said He does not know the day the return will begin. But it is very unclear how He could not know if it is literally happening before his eyes. Thus, we have two good scripturally based reason to deny a timeless conception of God. 

Transgender: A Mental Disease?

“In the last couple of decades, many medical institutions have moved away from the view that being transgender is the result of mental illness, as they previously did with homosexuality.” (http://time.com/4424589/being-transgender-is-not-a-mental-disorder-study/)

Transgender is a term for a person who was born in one sex but has a feeling they are the opposite gender. They often will go to lengths to transform their body to match the feelings they have. According to times, this used to be considered a mental disease but now it isn’t by most organizations. This seems to be done out of practical considerations for how transgender people are treated. Strictly speaking though, the move away from a mental disorder is a tricky one. According to psychiatry.org mental illnesses are ” are health conditions involving changes in thinking, emotion or behavior (or a combination of these)”. This definition rather lose. The definition covers every single person without further stipulation since everyone faces some changes in thinking, etc. (The National Alliance on Mental Illness define mental illness the same way). Clearly, a stipulation such as a frequent change that doesn’t normally occur in other people would be needed. This definition probably needs further clarification as well but should work for our purposes. Now, it seems clear that a transgender person faces a mental difference(s) that most people do not. Does this mean that gender dysphoria is automatically a mental illness? Not necessarily. A view that can help people who wish to claim gender dysphoria is not a mental illness is substance dualism (perhaps other dualism views could as well).
Substance dualism is the idea that people are more than their physical body. Typically there is a brain and a mind/soul. Under this view, a person could be born in the wrong body in the sense that their soul is the opposite gender from their biological sex. If that is the case, then the dysphoria would be a problem based on the incompatibility of the body/soul instead of a brain issue. Now, to be clear I am not making any claims about the truth values of gender dysphoria, substance dualism, or mental illnesses. Rather, I am making the claim that substance dualism would have to be true for gender dysphoria not to be a mental illness. However, it could be the case that substance dualism is true and gender dysphoria is a mental illness, but a different kind of argument would have to be made.

 

Prisoners of the Mind

2 Corinthians 10:5 

We all have thoughts. We all thoughts we wish we didn’t have. We all have thoughts that bring joy. Each of us has a duty to cultivate our thoughts as well. As a farmer cultivates his garden; thoughts must have fertile ground, bad ones must be pulled out, and good ones trimmed to produce better thoughts. 

Our thoughts might be the hardest thing, at first, to take captive to Christ. It is much like a circus up there, where we don’t even know what will come next. The elephants might as well walk properly as stampede, the juggler may catch torch or set the whole place on fire. But this is our circus. Our place to control. We must be like a sheriff, that when any thought steps out of line, we immediately arrest it and place it before Christ. How long will improper thoughts last when brought before the throne of Christ? Whether lust, envy, malice, of slothfulness, each will either straighten up or be eliminated before the one the earth obeys. 

Even if a thought were to break free from its prison per se. Our job is to lock it right back up. It doesn’t matter how many times it escapes, we must place it where it belongs. 

There is another way to make sure improper thoughts stay captive to Christ. Which is to keep the mind on things if the Spirit. Who wants to think about selfishness when the glory of our Lord is being dishonoured, or lost people are sitting on thin ice about hell? Even better when we see people’s live transform that they walk in the newness of life. This is part of the reason why one of the psalmist said, “my eyes are awake before the watches if the night, that I may meditate on your promise”. Which promise? Does not matter. Mediation on any of God’s promises is a good thing. Sure, there are probably some better than others, but we will naturally gravitate towards them in due time.  He understood that thinking about God’s word, promises, ways , was not only glorfiyig to God, but set himself free as well. 

The Curse Became a Blessing

Nehemiah 13:2 ” Yet our God turned the curse into a blessing.” 

This is a story headline which God continues to repeat. He can turn any diastser into a blessing. In the ultimate scheme He turned the biggest cursed into the  largest blessing- Jesus dying on the cross. Oh, that the infinite should taste death  is strange enough. But he became sin for us, cursed on a tree, that is unfathomable.  From this curse, we reap the best fruit — eternal life in the present. 

The eternal life in the present is much more than waiting for heaven. It is heaven on earth. Each of us, or most, have a struggle which feels like a curse. Something that haunts us everyday, taunts our very being. I believe that God wants to turn each of these cursed into a blessing. One, to know the graciousness​ of God to those whom seek Him. Two, to be a blessing who struggle in like affliction. Three, that God may be glorified in healing us. God has always intended to heal his people if they would turn from their evil ways. 

Epistemic Uniqueness

My friend Joel wrote about a possible counter-example to Epistemic Uniqueness.

“Epistemic Uniqueness: for any body of evidence, E, and any proposition, P, E permits at most one rational attitude toward P (i.e., given E, it is either rational to believe P, disbelieve P, or suspend judgment about P, but not more than one). ” (http://joelballivian.blogspot.com/2017/03/a-counterexample-to-epistemic-uniqueness.html)

I commented on why I thought the counter-example he gave failed. But as I was reflecting on some different today, I thought there might be a counter-example. Person S is aware of all the different theories of T for Y because they are an expert in T. They have assigned probabilities of each T: A: 5%, B: 10%, C:15%, and D: 45%. There are no other theories which are above 1%. It seems that person S is justified in both believing D and suspending judgment about D. Since, P(D)>P(C+B+A), but Pr(D) is still under 50%. It is the most likely, yet not likely at the same time. It seems pragmatically one would believe D, but also keep wondering if D was true. In addition, I think it likely that there are epistemologists who fit this scenario in the structure of knowledge debate.

A Description of Heaven

“we philosophers also should work more on giving good accounts of what heaven might be like.” – Alexander Pruss (http://alexanderpruss.blogspot.com/2017/03/heaven.html)

I am not sure if compelling account of heaven should increase credence of the afterlife. However, I think compelling account of heaven should increase our desire for sanctification, give us more joy, and bring a more fulfilling life. As long as we believe heaven is real. Thus, I think Dr. Pruss’ call for accounts of heaven should be answered. The description I give will first state what the bible teaches, then I shall talk about my own conjectures.

1.1 A Purely Biblical Description

The bible teaches us that heaven is a wonderful place to be. But what makes it wonderful is still a confusion for many. First thing I want to cover is that the book of Revelation makes several promises to the one that conquers the Spirit will: (1) give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God, (2) the ability not be hurt by the second death, (3)  give a white stone with a name on it that only the receiver knows, (4) give authorities over the nations, (5)  give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Rev: 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:26, 3:21)

I think promises (1) and (2) are fairly clear in what they are conveying, except for how they differ (if they differ). It seems they both are claiming to be an offer to everlasting life.

Promise (3) prima facie, is a bit weird. I hope to shed light on why this is one of the best promises. Names are important to people. They were even more important in the Greek culture because a name would represent who you are as a person (e.g, Peter= Rock/Rocky). There are also informal name which are sometimes even more endearing. A parent will often have a special title for their kid to evoke a feeling of preciousness within them. Now, I believe that God will give a name that not only represents us at the deepest level, but will endearing, and only be between ourselves and Him. I can only imagine what a special union it will be to have a name that only God will call me. 

Promise (4) is straight forward in concept, but not in practice. Does everyone that goes to heaven have authority of the nation? If so, then what is a nation? I think the implication is that there will be people who make into heaven, but do not receive some of these promises. Thus, we must be extra diligent. This also indicates that heaven will be a lot like our present lives. Clearly, some things will change such as the amount of pain, but overall there will be more similarity than not.

Promise (5) is terrifying. I tremble at the thought of sitting upon the throne with God. I do not have a clue to what sitting on the throne fully means, but I am not worthy. When John, who spent time with Jesus on earth, saw the resurrected Christ in full glory, he fell down as if dead. Now the God who has this glory, offers us the potentional to sit on the throne with him, is a gift beyond measure.

Lastly, these are not all the promises even with the versus from which they are taken. There are other promises as well, but I am not sure what to make of them currently. One could argue that because these promises are to certain churches they only extend to the people in those churches. The issue of promise (4) being universal goes away if this is correct. I think all the other promises are clearly universal or easily universal. Perhaps it is a case by case basis. Either way, I think it is best to count on the promises being universal

2.1 Some Conjectures 

In the above section it was established that heaven will be a lot like our earthly lives in terms of our daily lives. I believe that we will continue to grow and learn. I believe we will continue to discover too. One interesting possibility it to interact with new species that are rational. Given that God likes to create (the creation account suggests this), and God likes having personal relationship with his creation (humans and angels), then he likes creating beings that he personally knows. Now, humans and angels are a rather limited amount of personal beings. There is no compelling reason that God wouldn’t or hasn’t created more rational creatures. There are two ways I think this will come about. First, I believe some animals will evolve to have souls, moral, and become persons. Second, God may have created multiple universes to maximize his creation total. Both suggestions are plausible given the creation account in Genesis. Over time we may be stewards in developing animals into persons. And possible God we will be allowed to discover how to travel from universe to universe and meet his other creations.